vespa kickstarter

Vespa Kickstarter – useful or redundant?

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At the latest, when our electric ignition does not work, one thing is certain: the kickstarter can be an extremely useful aid.

How do I start the Vespa with a kickstarter?

  • first we put the scooter on the main stand
  • then we fold out the pedal of the kickstarter sideways
  • we put the ignition key into the designated slot
  • then we turn the ignition key to the right to the ON position 
  • the emergency stop switch must be in the OFF position at the same time
  • we have folded up the side stand
  • now we step briefly, but strongly on the starter pedal
  • repeat this procedure until the engine of the Vespa starts

Tip: It can be heard and felt that the piston moves in the cylinder as soon as we depress the start pedal.

So far so good, the engine is running, the kick starter has worked. 
It is easy to imagine the powerful pressure that our footstep on the kick pedal must exert to move the crankshaft, to get the piston and thus the engine going. Comparatively, the e-starter operates at about 1 hp with the ignition going through. Equally easy to imagine is the wear to which the kickstarter and its parts are subjected. 

The kick starter consists of:

Which kickstarters are available?

There are generally two types of kickstarters, foldable and normal. Foldable means that the lever can be easily folded inward by the folding mechanism. The following is a comparison of both models:

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Kickstart Lever SIP, fold down

The extended overall length of this fold-able kick-starter provides enough extra leverage to kick over motors with the higher compression ratios involved with performance cylinders.

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Kickstart Lever SIP

Unobtrusive vintage appearance, that still attracts the trained eyes attention. The SIP kickstarters provide the icing on the cake for any restoration build project!

From time to time, these wearing parts need to be checked and replaced. Above all, the shaft and gears will wear out, the return spring will become lame over time, and seals will become porous and brittle. It is better to have them checked regularly during an inspection than to experience the worst case scenario that neither the electric starter nor the kick starter work.

“If you love your scooter, you push it”. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do in practice. Depending on the scooter model, it can take quite a bit of force to get the motor of the two-wheeler running by pushing.

For experienced mechanics, it is only a minor problem to determine the cause of the failure. But not every Vespa pilot is a DIY enthusiast.

What can be done if the Kickstarter does not work?

First, we need to locate the error. What does the Kickstarter do, or better asked, what does it not do?

The following scenarios are possible:

The kickstarter goes pretty easily, it rushes through without resistance. Check:

  • Are the piston rings and/or the spark plug in correctly?
    Is the cylinder screwed together correctly? This can easily be done incorrectly 
  • Tip: There is an arrow on the piston pointing in the direction of the exhaust.
  • Is the clutch possibly adjusted incorrectly? An incorrect adjustment could cause it to feel like the clutch lever is being pulled at the same time when kicking off. Then the pinion can’t grip, which it shouldn’t when the clutch is active.
  • Is the pinion that drives the crankshaft OK and bolted down? The screw connection can come loose from time to time

Kickstarter takes hold, but there is zero compression. Check:

  • Is pressure escaping between the cylinder and crankcase? Of course, this is not easy to determine. What can be done? Check the glands, are all seals in? Is the head gasket in order (if defective, recognizable by a trace of soot)?
  • Tip: Do not overtighten the nuts on the cylinder head, use a torque wrench.
  • Kickstarter gears in the vario cover may be defective.
  • Does fuel come out of the opening when the spark plug is unscrewed? Engine flooded? Float needle leaking or defective?
  • If the fan wheel is turned by hand, the compression can be felt (or not).
  • The oil seal must be in order, is it?

Good to know

A piston seizure is not immediately noticeable. A piston seizure does, however, if the Vespa rider has ended up in a ditch because the piston has jammed and brought the two-wheeler to an abrupt halt.

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